10.05.2015 07:05 AM

KCCCC Day 64: confirming confirmation bias


  • Do you know what confirmation bias is? I’m certain you do, because all of my readers are smart.  But here it is again, for those who need a refresher: “In psychology and cognitive science, confirmation bias (or confirmatory bias) is a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions, leading to statistical errors.”
  • If there has ever been an election where confirmation bias is a pandemic, Election 42 is it.  Just take a gander at the comments below every post on this web site, for the past 64 days – in which otherwise-sane people succumb to HDS (Harper Derangement Syndrome) or THD (Trudeau Hater Disease) or TPMSHBC (The Prime Ministers Shouldn’t Have Beards Consensus) and see only what they want to see, and shut out all information/opinion to the country.
  • Here’s an example.  Nano boss Nick Nanos tweeted last night that he had some “interesting” numbers to share at 6 a.m. today.  So, I bet some folks actually got up bright and early to see them.  Lo and behold! What Nick found “interesting” was identical to his previous poll, 24 hours before. Liberals 35, Conservatives 31.
  • Nick and CTV/Globe can decide whether it was appropriate to sell that  as “interesting.” But what was interesting to me is how, yet again, partisans selected only those factoids that supported their view of the universe.  And discarded the rest.
  • Maybe because it’s Monday morning, or whatever, but I’m fed up to the teeth with Election 42 confirmation bias.  So, I implore you to come out and see and hear something that is real – and that is this event, tomorrow night, involving two people I’m privileged to know. I can confirm you will be glad you did. No bias.



  1. Alex says:

    Well said. While I would love to see Harper lose, the Nanos numbers don’t seem credible to me. Nick Nanos could be turning his company into the next Forum and acting like a MAYO (Making an Ass of Yourself). There are two pieces of data that have me really worried: a) the Cons are ahead with seniors, who vote more than other demographics; and b) the PM is still seen as a strong leader, even if this makes me gag to think about.

    What keeps me sane is the thought (hope?) that Ontario will provide a happy surprise and go back to its Liberal tendencies. Some data seems to hint at this, but its nowhere near conclusive.

    • Matt says:

      Libs down 3 in Ontario (40.1 down from 44), CPC up 3 (36.5 from 33.5)

      But remember he’s only asking about 100 people a night in Ontario, and even fewer in BC and Quebec at 50 to 60 a night.

  2. Here’s the Saskatoon lawn sign report: 50/50 Lib/Con. Surprisingly, very few NDP signs save for the inner city where there there’s a ton of them. Not a green sign anywhere. Of course all of this is unscientific but that’s what I’m seeing. Draw your own conclusions. 🙂

  3. Matt says:

    Regarding Nanos’ interesting comment, It’s called “click bait” Trying to get as many eyes on the CTV/Globe and Mail websites as possible.

    The only thing I found interesting obout it was the three night rolling sample that was supposed to be 1200 is now down to 1071.

    Oh, and to answer your twitter question from yesterday which would be the lead story on the news – TPP or the Liberal rally in Brampton – at least on CTV National news (only one I saw) it was the TPP.

    Washington Post reporting this AM a deal has been reached.

  4. MississaugaPeter says:

    You are right, many folks expected something a little more noteworthy from Nanos.

    But the reality is that daily has multiple errors in his numbers. He needs a number checker.



    Look at Duceppe and May 3 months ago. The numbers are incorrect.

    Let’s see how long it takes to get fixed.

  5. bobbie says:

    Well said Warren.

    IMO this “close” campaign has been media and poll driven….period. From the get go.
    Actual factoids of information seriously lacking. Why?
    Both MSM and pollsters are losing respect and relevance.
    Look for voters to partake in a little revenge voting of their own….only it’s going to be against the pollsters and MSM spinners and weavers of tales of the fantasy elections THEY wish upon us.

  6. Scott says:

    I believe his point was the continuing slide of the NDP. Down to 22%. A noteworthy number. I was looking for more myself but this is still a big deal. NDP are collapsing, with obvious implications for the Liberals. Hopefully this comment isn’t seen as the result of some derangement on my part.

  7. Brent Crofts says:

    Very interesting. I’d imagine that if Mr. Nanos is correct (i.e. the Liberals are beginning to separate from the pack and perhaps even pull away), or at least if the Conservative interall polls are showing the same thing, attack ads will begin to fly fast and furious now, especially during the MLB playoffs. The Conservatives certainly have the money for it. Pretty quiet so far, but we’ll see what this week brings. On a personal note, I’m quite disappointed with the “trend” as I think Mr. Trudeau would be a poor PM. However, if he does become PM I hope I’m wrong and that he does a good job for Canada. Still two weeks to go though and the final two weeks of a campaign are almost always very interesting. Glad I don’t get paid to operate a war room – gotta be running on empty by now.

  8. Maps Onburt says:

    Right on Warren. It is hard to have rational discussions with some of the rabid partisans on all sides. I’ve been closely following Nanos’ numbers and I am genuinely perplexed as to his actions this campaign. It seems geared to generate headlines because his underlying data never look reliable. For example, this morning he has the Liberals nearly passing the NDP and have left the Bloc in the dust in Quebec. Does ANYBODY believe this??? He’s shown the Conservatives in a free fall in BC the last few days but this am shows them ramping back up almost 4 percent. With two bad polls against them, it will take one more of exactly the same number of supporters they got last night to bring their numbers back into sensible territory which will indicate that BC had two flaky samples against the Conservatices which skewed things radically. I remember the last campaign and Nanos had similar bad polls once in a while. They take three days to work themselves out. The problem is that Nik is now using that as a “feature” or marketing gimmick to advance his clicks.

    In case people think I’m being partisan on this, anyone really believe Trudeau just lost 5% of his support in Atlantic Canada? I didn’t think so. Nanos use of these super small sample sizes to,illustrate a trend in provinces is deplorable. Critics will say that you have to look at the three night rolling average but if anyone actually watches his numbers for a while, you’ll quickly see bad samples and watch how they affect the three night rolling average. I like Nanos’ methodology as a tool for seeing trends when you look a week or so back but that isn’t the way Nik is promoting it.

    All the pollsters will get much more careful in the next few weeks as they want to get as close to the end result as possible so they can sell themselves for next time.

  9. Mark says:

    Given how many people seem to be completely polarized (at least in the ‘for’ or ‘against’ Harper side, if not necessary decisive regarding Mulcair or Trudeau), how many undecided voters are there really in this one compared to past elections?

  10. RogerX says:

    I beg to differ…. I am a subjective-objective (or is that objective-subjective) observer of the political theatre and refuse to commit myself emotionally to one party. Currently I see an interesting development in the political landscape where lemming Canadian voters are scurrying towards entrancing Justin… and I have predicted a wave, a Liberal Red Bull Youth Wave, engulfing the election and possibly boosting the Liberals into a minority government with a PM Trudeau. I find this possibility rather amusing and somewhat apprehensive too!

    I’ve said that voting is an emotional reaction based on base feelings… and feelings just cannot be wrong… because feelings are politically correct too! The mass of Canadian voters have the collective intellect of a 10-12 y.o. child because they feel they know the issues when they don’t. Those that don’t vote have given up because they are overwhelmed by their ignorance and can’t make a decision anyway… so they stay home. I’ve predicted a youth uprising supporting pied piper Justin and abandoning the old geezers. I could be wrong but it seems like an opportunity just sitting there for the Liberals to exploit.

    Cynical?… or realistic? I remove myself from political bias best I can and rise above the nonsense and propaganda to achieve understanding of what is happening going into the future. End of spew… thanks.

  11. patrick says:

    Why are people talking about the accuracy of polls? How is it relevant to any election issue other those with a desperate need to follow a herd.

  12. doconnor says:

    I look at the CBC polltracker because it averages all the polls, avoiding the debate about who to trust and who not to.

    It shows the slow drop of the NDP since Aug 24 and the even slower rise of the Conservatives and Liberals.

    The likely high end of the Conservative range is still below a majority, so I think we are safe for now.

  13. Vancouverois says:

    I know what you mean. It’s just astonishing how people who don’t agree with me just ignore the facts that show I’m right, while putting exaggerated emphasis on things that are completely unimportant in their pathological desperation to prove me wrong.

    It’s just weird!

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